Welcome to Lyndell Montgomery

this-is-warThe end of World War II brought a renewed desire to prevent horrific events such as the

Holocaust that had ravaged the Jewish population in Europe. International attention focused towards

drafting binding legislation that would guarantee the inherent dignity and value of human life for all as

well as establishing institutions that would promote global solidarity. With the intention to conform to

these standards, the United States was actively involved in many of the most important developments

in international human rights and used its global influence to convince many other countries to

participate. Unfortunately, this commitment to human rights in the United States was not as high as a

priority in government policy, as often the United States supported human rights offending regimes,

tolerated acts of genocide, and failed to enforce the standards of global legislation by not formally

ratifying some of the most important articles and treaties. There are four major signposts which signal

the transition of the United States from a country which did not recognize or support international

human rights into one of the most forefront proponents of the global human rights agenda. Each of the

four events have shaped current United States policy towards human rights, which while enormous in

effort is still not enough to categorize the United States as an active defender of international human

rights standards.

In the aftermath of World War II, it became evident that the international community did not

have the proper legal language to condemn Germany for the massacring of its own citizens. The

principles of state sovereignty allowed for total state impunity, regardless of how heinous the crimes

committed were. In an attempt to solve this dilemma, the international community convened together to

form the United Nations and establish the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials in order to punish “charge of

crimes against humanity” in a revolutionary first step for the enforcement of human rights. The United

States was a founder state of the United Nations, and was adamant about including human rights into

the UN charter in 1945. The Preamble of the UN Charter lists as two of the four principal objectives of

the organization “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human

person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small” and “to promote social

progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”(Donnelly, 5) The importance of including this

into the UN Charter was that it established human rights as a central goal of the organization, which

prompted many of the later human rights legislation. In terms of significance to the United States, the

US hosted the official United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco and

was one of the original 50 members to ratify the UN Charter on October 24, 1945. (History of the

United Nations) The analysis that can be drawn is that the United States was influential in the creation

process of the United Nations and gave the proposal the legitimacy and the prestige that was required

in order to have it ratified by a majority of the intonational community.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the UDHR, is a fundamental piece of

legislation which outlines the international standards of what constitutes as inherent human rights.

Drafted by the Commission of Human Rights, a coalition of representatives from United Nations

member states, the document encompasses the body of human rights legislation and is the foundation

for the implementation of pro-human rights agendas. It should be noted that one of the most influential

members of the council was Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States who played a major role in shaping

the Declaration (Donnelly 6) The Declaration includes a comprehensive series of civil and political

rights in Articles 3 – 21 which includes the right to life, liberty, and security of person; an array of legal

protections and civil liberties; and the right to political participation. (Donnelly 6) Articles 16 – 18 and

22 – 27 recognizes a wide range of economic, social, and cultural rights, including the rights to an

adequate standard of living, social security, work, rest and leisure, family, education, and participation

in the cultural life of the community (Donnelly 6) This comprehensive document was ratified by the

majority of the United Nations members, however it's main drawback is that none of the principles are

legally binding and there are no enforcement mechanisms established. Therefore, even though the

United States has formally ratified the UDHR, it is under to concrete obligation to uphold the standards

that are incorporated into the document. The synopsis of the UDHR in relationship to the United States

is therefore somewhat complicated, as the US was influential in the drafting and passing of the UDHR,

however since there is a lack of binding clauses the United States is technically under no obligation to

participate in or enforce the human rights agenda set forth in the document. What essentially is

occurring is the promotion of human rights in language and theory rather than a practical application in

the real world, so while the UDHR is a revolutionary proposal, it is not definitive indicator of a pro-

human rights agenda in the United States.

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union which took place between 1947

and 1991 had a profound impact on the international human rights regime most notably in the division

of ideology between communism and capitalism. The United States often confused anti-communism

with human rights through a theory called American exceptionalism, the belief that the United States is

different from and generally superior to most other countries, in large part because of its domestic

commitment to individual rights. (Donnelly 114) The influence of this ideology was the general

association of anti-communist behavior being similar to the promotion of the human rights agenda as

there was a general belief that totalitarian state-controlled governments actively and routinely violated

human rights of its citizens. Unprecedented methods of political and economic manipulation occurred

throughout Europe, Latin America, and Asia as the United States attempted to prevent the spreading of

communism in a policy known as containment. The result of this behavior was numerous human rights

violations including state sanctioned genocide and torture; an example of such atrocious conduct can be

found in Chile. In response to the 1973 military coup in Chile, the United Nations created the Ad Hoc

Working Group on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile, which led to the formation of the Human

Rights Committee in 1976 which was in charge of monitoring the implementation of the International

Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. (Donnelly 10) The Human Rights Committee requires that all

member states submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented, and is

currently ratified by the United States. (Human Rights Committee) The importance of the

establishment of this committee is that it requires its members to actively report their statistics on their

implementation of their human rights policies, thereby providing data and statistics which give a more

accurate representation of how human rights are being implemented in member states. Get more at Lyndell Montgomery. In relationship

to the United States, this is one of the first international agreements which has the ability to influence

policy in the United States by utilizing methods of enforcement as opposed to just arbitrary rhetoric.

The result is the United States becoming more accountable to its commitment of protecting human

rights as well as strengthening the international pro-human rights regime through methods of control at

the state level.

One of the most influential events of the twenty-first century was the terrorist attack on the

World Trade Center in New York City on September 11 th , 2001. The attack on the United States

provoked the nation into a “war on terror” which has had a tremendous impact on the implementation

of human rights both domestically in the United States as well as internationally in how perceived

threats are targeted and dealt with. This page is continued please use this search.

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